December 27, 2016

HCTF's best of 2016 (20-16)

?
Where's ...
David Bowie, Radiohead, Nick Cave? Or that album that you liked so much?

Simple. HCTF picked the 20 best albums that were actually reviewed on this blog.

HCTF lists the 20 albums that will be in regular rotation for many years to come.

2016 was a memorable year for music lovers.

  • Vinyl is back
  • The majors are still running around in circles, trying to keep their cashflow alive
  • streaming is now big business (for the artist not so much).
  • "Self-released" has become a regular tag. Even big time acts go for crowdfunding to cover the costs of making an album, sometimes aided by a small network of indie labels to carry the load of distribution.
  • Software is catching up with the studio as a means of home recording - untrained ears will have a hard time to hear the difference.

One thing will never change: independent music is where it's at when you are on the look out for something interesting to listen to.

Sadly some of the greats are no longer with us - David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen as well two of the finest sidemen - Scotty Moore and Bernie Worrell. As 2016 drew too a close underrated Stus Quo rhythm guitarist Rick Parfitt and singer George Michael also checked out.

Today: countdown from number 20 to 16.

Go here for 5-1 | 10-6 | 15-11.

20 Sewage Farm: Cloudy

Lo-fi garage rock never goes out of style.

Their debut album Cloudy is a rough-around-the-edges lo-fi affair, knee-deep in smart hooks and riffs. Pop it in the player for a Long Srive, take a swim in the Darkest Ocean and changes are a foil mood will be replaced by a more cheerful outlook on life, a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy that should propel this band to bigger venues that hosts rock shows for a target group that likes to drink beer and play air guitar, while swaying gently to the back beat.

» Full review

19 Jasmine Rodgers: Blood Red Sun

Having a great voice can be inherited.

Rodgers has a knack for choosing her notes carefully. Timing and phrasing are essential within her genre and she gets an A+ for both, with the gentle solo track While You Were Sleeping as the standout example. Her rock star father and poet mum can be proud. Can somebody wake up the A&R people of a niche label to get her to the next level?

» Full review

18 Jherek Bischoff and Amanda Palmer: Strung Out In Heaven: A Bowie String Quartet Tribute

There were many Bowie tributes. This one blows them all out of the water.

Strung Out In Heaven was recorded in a quick burst of creativity and grief. An art piece by fans of Bowie who responded in a way only real musicians can: by playing his music with all due respect, but also changing things up a bit. Getting in a string quartet was a smart move indeed. A note-for-note cover is boring as Hell. Boredom and Bowie never met, so why start now.

» Full review

17 Queen Of The Meadow: Aligned With Juniper

French folk singer and late bloomer gets it right on her first album.

Ferguson looked at her immediate surroundings and personal life for her lyrics. She writes about shattered dreams, nightmares and lucky breaks. The keyword is intimacy. She proofs that facing her inner demons can be turned into songs that are both soothing and confident. Aligned With Juniper is like an unlocked diary, for all to see and hear.

» Full review

16 Adam Irving: Tomorrow & Tomorrow

English fiercely DIY musician is not afraid to speak his mind.

He is an artist who does as he pleases, with an allergy for people who tell him that he shouldn't do this or that. A true original, relying on word-of-mouth and live shows to build an audience. That might not be "en vogue" at the moment, but it never gets old.

» Full review

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